Boomers keen to improve on fourth spot at FIBA World Cup

Patty Mills will be hoping to lead the Boomers to World Cup glory.

Patty Mills will be hoping to lead the Boomers to World Cup glory. Photo: AAP

Australia will hope its opening FIBA World Cup match goes a little better than its sleep patterns ahead of Friday’s crunch encounter against Finland.

The Boomers were woken at 4am in Okinawa on Thursday, disturbed by a nearby missile launched from North Korea that triggered emergency evacuation alerts.

The missile, however, passed into the Pacific Ocean some 15 minutes later.

It wasn’t the ideal preparation for basketball’s showpiece event, where the Boomers are looking to shore up their reputation as one of the world’s emerging powerhouses with another deep run in a major tournament.

Following up a semi-final appearance at the 2019 World Cup with bronze at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Brian Goorjian’s men are once again one of the major players in Japan.

They will first, however, need to get out of a tricky pool featuring Germany and the host nation, along with Finland.

But coach Goorjian conceded they had bigger goals than just surviving the group stage.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge ahead,” he said.

“We’ve introduced some exciting new prospects into the group and developed a style of play both offensively and defensively that we’ll take into the tournament.

“It’s clearly a tough tournament, but we’re confident in our blueprint on what we need to do to win gold.”

The Boomers enter their opening game against Finland as warm favourites, but will need to stop Utah Jazz gunner Lauri Markkanen if they’re to get the job done.

The NBA’s reigning Most Improved Player dropped a career-high 25.6 points per game for Jazz in an All-Star campaign last season and is clearly his side’s great hope.

There’s a sense of intrigue around the line-ups Goorjian will produce with the Boomers forced to play some small ball after the late injury withdrawal of centre Jock Landale.

Without Landale, 211cm beast Duop Reath is the only traditional big on the roster with Goorjian suggesting 201cm Jack White might be one to pick up his minutes.

Melbourne United coach Dean Vickerman, who previously led the Boomers, suggested former charge White loomed as a long-term option for the side.

“Obviously with Landale taking that injury, so sad for him (given) how dominant I thought he would have been at this World Cup,” he said.

“But to have Jack as the guy coming into the Boomers program and what he’s going to do over not just this championship, but over multiple years as a Boomer, is a great start for him.”

Australia battles Finland at 6pm on Friday, before tackling Germany on Sunday and Japan on Tuesday.

Spain is the defending champion after beating Argentina in the final, with France defeating Australia in the third-place playoff.


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